Tip of the branch

MY GRANDPARENTS, all four of them, were born two centuries back, the late 1800s. Jeez, I must be old.

I came upon a genealogy website (geni.com) recently, so I searched for my father, and there he was with links to his parents and other kinfolk. There are even photos of the headstones of my grandfather and father.

I didn’t know my father has a headstone.

serveimageI then switched to my mother’s side, and there are my maternal grandparents with names of their parents and siblings, names I did not know.

The website knows more about my relatives than I do. For instance, my maternal grandmother’s mother — that would be my great-grandmother — was Georgianne Zillytholan Virginia Courtoy. There are no typos in that.

We are Southerners, obviously.

My mother’s name was Virginia, so now I know where that came from, her own grandmother.

Family trees have limbs, and I’m hanging out on the tip of ours. There is only one fruit that hangs out farther, my daughter, my only child. She’s the last apple.

My mother was an only child. My father had just one sister, a lesbian who never reproduced. I have only one sister too, a lesbian who never reproduced — what’s going on here? My daughter is in her early 50s and has no children.

We’ve reached the end of the limb. This is probably a good thing, considering how nuts and conflictive we are.

But it was fun seeing my limb of the family tree. Perhaps the best part was learning that my great-grandmother was named Georgianne Zillytholan Virginia Courtoy.

I wonder what she was like. I’ll never know.

25 thoughts on “Tip of the branch”

    1. Peggy: The geni.com site has a place to order the DNA. Is that where you did it, or had you already done it elsewhere?

      I happened upon that website by happenstance. Truth is that my ancestry really does not interest me much. My father’s sister was a real fanatic about it, and my disinterest annoyed her, I think.

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      1. No, I didn’t use geni but Ancestry.com. I know my mother’s line back to the 1600s in Scotland. It is my father’s lineage that I am real curious about and have been for years. This is a long time coming. No expectations though. If I already knew everything I would not be interested.

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        1. Peggy: My actual last name is Scottish. It’s a less common spelling of a more common last name that is English. One rarely sees my version. I was in Scotland once in the 1970s, and was surprised to see my last name, spelled as I spell it, quite often there. It was not rare at all.

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  1. Porfirio Diaz was just starting his third term when both of my grandparents were born. They were older parents, at least for their time, when they hatched their only child, who would become my mother, and she, in turn, would turn out to be one of those older mothers. Wisely, only one of her brood of three would elect to reproduce, and he, like most of the men in the family, would turn out to marry the maid when it came time to marry a second time. One of those men even went so far as to announce, when he was in search of a replacement bride, that he would seek a woman with no thoughts of her own.

    There are a lot of reasons why I don’t go searching for roots.

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    1. Ms. Shoes: As I said in a previous comment, my roots have never interested me much either. Still don’t, but the names did catch my fancy.

      As for marrying a maid with no thoughts of her own, well, that’s certainly one approach. I will withhold public judgment.

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  2. This gringo was adopted as an infant, and until I was in my sixties I did not have access to my full adoption file. They said I was being protected, but I’m not sure that’s the full truth.

    I have spent a lot of time working for clients over the past 35 + years locating folks who did not know they were missing. Finding my birth mother and the story of my deceased birth father took less than twenty minutes to discover online once I had their names and original locations.

    Turns out my birth mom was very proud of her family tree and posted the entire thing back to the 1600s on Ancestry.com. She did not choose to be in contact with me and is still alive. I accept this as her choice and my six half-brothers/sisters just might agree with her. I expect she has not mentioned me.

    Once I knew the basic birth information, I am not interested in pursuing more details. I’m blaming that on my work.

    Had my DNA run about a decade ago and found some interesting things about myself I had never suspected.

    Señor Felipe, you continue to provide a bright spot every time I tune in.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Ricardo. It’s good to provide bright spots.

      So you were adopted at birth. That’s an interesting situation. Your half-siblings “might agree” with your birth mother? Perhaps some would, some would not. I think most would not. I imagine you are right in that she has not mentioned you to them. Wonder why.

      Time to move on, as they say. Sounds like you’ve done that. By the way, what does a DNA test tell you anyway? I know what it is, of course, but what it would reveal specifically, I do not know. I thought it merely proved or disproved your relationship to others. Or whether you murdered that woman or not.

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      1. With DNA you can get your full ethnic story. Mine was over 69% Germanic with a mix of British isles thrown in. On the maternal side I had a Basque gene. Pretty interesting since no Basque women married out of the tribe in over 500 years of occupation.

        You also get the latest theories of how the DNA strain(s) migrated across the globe over thousands of years.

        The Germanic tribe included a lot of Dutch connection.

        A friend of mine asked how much I paid to have that DNA test done. I told him the amount. He said if I had bought him a beer he could have told me about that German connection. His last name was Schumann, and he did not need a DNA test.

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  3. In 1980, my wife dragged me kicking and screaming into genealogy research. This was well before the internet and Ancestry.com so we spent countless hours in the family history sections of the local library. It turns out that we made a pretty good team because I was interested in the geography and regional history and she supplied all the family names and pictures. We even made several trips thru North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama where we haunted the attics of numerous old courthouses, digging through dusty boxes of marriage licences and land deeds. We explored a lot of weed-covered cemeteries and even met some long-lost family members. When Ancestry came along, we were pretty much ahead of the game and even found some unproven and unfortunately unchangeable “facts.” I’ve found an incredible amount of info about the comings and goings of my ancestors. My great-grandfather on my mother’s side served in the Civil War (Union) from 1861 till 1865. I have his service record with all the muster sheets, pay records and hospital stays. I looked up his regiment’s history and they served in most of the major battles in Virginia. Without my wife’s interest in “who married whom,” I would never have known anything about him other than his name. I’ve lost interest in the endless branches of the tree, but I still enjoy digging deeper into the history of the places where the various families lived.

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    1. Paul: Your great-grandaddy fought with the Yankees???? Oh, dear.

      That was quite a trip down History Lane that you took. Interesting. I just looked at the Ancestry.com website. On the U.S. site, you get a free trial, but I keep getting directed to the Mexican version where there is no free trial. Of course, I have no Mexican relatives behind the current generation I married into.

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      1. Felipe, it takes some changing of country and language to get into the U.S. site but it can be done..If this non-techie got in there I am sure you will be able to also. ps. I’m of the Campbell Clan..

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    2. My side of the family tree is pretty much Yankee, but my wife’s family has some pretty strong Southern roots. In fact, one of the courthouses we visited was in Pulaski, TN, right across the street from the barber shop where the KKK was founded. But on the other hand, most of her people were from what is now The Czech Republic, plus, she’s a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas by way of early French and Irish settlers in East Texas. What a melting pot.

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  4. Ah, genealogy. Like Paul I got involved way before Ancestry.com and have spent countless hours in dusty county courthouse vaults and storage rooms and hit more than one dead end when the courthouse burned during the Civil War. My Scottish ancestors were so proud of their lineage they had already documented themselves back to the Battle of Killiecrankie when James the Elder was killed in 1689. That’s the Yankee quarter of my heritage. The rest is pure Johnny Reb. The English branch showed up in Virginia in the 1630s. The English branch is quite intertwined and makes up half of my heritage. The Welsh branch showed up in Virginia in 1730s. All fought in the Revolutionary war, and I could be a member of DAR through any of them if I wanted to spend the money and time to do that.

    Makes U.S. history a lot more interesting, and I have seen some beautiful country while traveling around.

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    1. Judy: Boy, that must have taken quite a bit of effort, more than I would have put into it. I just signed up with a free trial of Ancestry.com, looked around for about 10 minutes and canceled. Just not all that interested in my roots. As everyone knows, we’re all related to Kevin Bacon one way or the other.

      I wonder if any of my kin were at the wonderfully named Battle of Killiecrankie.

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      1. Probably, I still don’t know whether or not he was a Jacobite Royalist or a Orange Covenantor Royalist. I suspect the former as the clan ended up in Ireland and then Pennsylvania.

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  5. I had an aunt on my father’s side who did their family’s genealogy. She sent us all copies. I noticed that a cousin of her and my father had died in Phoenix back in the 1930s. At that time, I was at Arizona State University, so I went to the library and looked up his obituary. Turned out he had been poisoned with fly tox in beer by his wife. I sent my aunt a copy of that, but she never said thank you or acknowledged it.

    I don’t know if it was the murder, or the fact that beer was involved.

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    1. Robert — Lots of people have messy ancestry. My sister posted our stuff on Ancestry.com and it caused quite the stir as some had been told a few ‘non-truths.’ I think some of the relatives are still trying to come to grips with the documented information.

      One time when we were in a library in Oklahoma there was a couple that was having fun trying to outdo each other with all the outlaws in their respective lineages. Which to me is a more healthy way of looking at it than not even acknowledging it.

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  6. My mother joined the DAR based on her genealogy research. Our revolutionary ancestor was a Hessian mercenary soldier for the British who switched sides near Boston in 1777.

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